A Reading from the Book of Numbers (21:4-9)
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
> [This Sunday we are halfway through Lent; also known as Mothering Sunday or Refreshment Sunday.]
> This is a somewhat strange reading that Jesus refers to in the Gospel.
> During the time of Solomon’s temple there was a bronze serpent that people brought incense to.
> The bronze serpent was later destroyed by Hezekiah.
> The “miserable food” referred to was manna.
> The chapter is called “Numbers” because as census was taken at the beginning of the book.
Psalm (107:1-3, 17-22)
(refrain sung by soloist and repeated by all)
“His love, His love,
His love is everlasting”.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, *
and his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let all those whom the Lord has redeemed proclaim *
that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.
3 He gathered them out of the lands; *
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
17 Some were fools and took to rebellious ways; *
they were afflicted because of their sins.
18 They abhorred all manner of food *
and drew near to death’s door.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent forth his word and healed them *
and saved them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.
22 Let them offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.
>This is a psalm of thanksgiving for for specific things.
> Those are: 1) lost in the desert, 2) in prison, 3) sicknesses, and 4) storm at sea.
> The pattern is repeated: cry to God — delivered — let us praise God.
> This is the same pattern for peril, sickness, etc.
A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (2:1-10)
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
> This book is not really a letter, probably not written by the “authentic” Paul, and may not have been written to the Ephesians! (We just do not really know.)
> The evil spirits lived somewhere between God in heaven and people on earth.
> In these verses salvation is already accomplished and not waiting for the return of Jesus as was the case in other earlier letters from Paul.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (3:14-21)
[Jesus said,] “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
> The time period was from the end of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, who leaves in a state of confusion.
> Jesus is left alone and able to give his dialog.
> “Lifted up” to the cross also means to be glorified.
> We do not known if the last part of the verse was a direct quote from Jesus or from the Gospel writer.
> This is the only place in the Bible where people have already judged themselves — if you do not believed then you are already condemned.